2015 was not a good year for contesting on the Hohloh. We had to cancel May, July and September due to personal reasons of members of the crew.
Fortunately Jens DF5HC, Henning DF9IC and Alexander DL8AAU could help the crew of DA0FF during the year. That was not only lots of fun, it also allowed us to test some new parts needed for the IARU UHF/SHF contest. So finally we had another good SSPA for 23cm, could verify the 13cm equipment after repair and build a competative station for 3cm that can be extended to 24GHz in the future.
And last but not least: the team of DA0FF would support us again for the October contest. So Tim DK5OH made the trip from his vacation in EA6 to Hennings place close to Pforzheim - from nice 25°C Thursday morning back to sunny but cold Germany on Thursday evening. Helmut DK8SG and Alexander DL8AAU already had driven the van to the Hohloh peak, Alexander joined Henning and Tim for a night shift to complete some important gear... contests always come so unexpected :-(
With not much sleep, Tim and Alexander met with the two Helmuts DK8SG and DB1TP early Friday morning on the Hohloh to start and assemble the station. Henning would join later after packing the mobile shack trailer.
First tasks are to connect the electric power and to assemble the 8x23 Ele. Yagis for 70cm. Unfortunately the power was not working as expected. After some tedious analysis of the problem we found the root cause: some mooron swapped phase and neutral in one of the many power cables. It seems we have not used this particular cable before...
Unfortunately it was not the only cable with this problem: when trying to operate the rotator, the fuse blew yet another time: again 400V on the mains supply killed two computer power supplies, several fuses, a USB charger and a network switch... We really need to check all power cables before the next contest.
These incidents and the limited number of people working on the antennas caused a delay of course. Slowly people came to help, so once Martin DL5NAH, Henning and Bernd DH5IAE arrived, we could finally go quicker. The Helmuts had to go and get the manlift that was supposed to carry another antenna system for 70cm.
We tried hard, but at sunset we just finished 70cm and the dish for 13cm was installed, but it was too difficult to assemble the electronics with the limited light. So we had a lot on our plate for Saturday: complete 13cm, install 3cm and finally install all the 23cm antennas, erect mast to full length, test everything, finish the shack. And of course install the new manlift antenna that Helmut build.
On Saturday morning our guests arrived, we were lucky to be supported not only by Jan DL2ZXA, another member of the DA0FF team, but also by our old friend Andrea HB9DUR and our neighbors from Haut-Rhin: Alphonse F5FJL and Laurent F5AEG. And of course also the "usual crowd" of the DR9A team came to help - Winfried DK9IP, Michael DK7UX, Ralf DG3IAM, Dirk DL2EAA, Alex DL2GWZ and Suad DK6XZ.
But despite the many people available on Saturday we were running out of time and had to start the contest in a rush. Many important tasks like instruct new operators, fine tune the setup, align antennas to beacons, tune the PAs etc. had to be performed already after the contest had started.
A pity: after one year finally a new activity of DR9A, many people motivited, but everyone in panic mode... Fortunately things calmed down after the contest started. 70cm and 13cm started with more than 30mins delay, 23cm followed close after. 3cm took a bit longer.
We even had a plan this time:
Finally QSOs started to fill the log. The nice tropo conditions of the week before the contest did not last, but that made the competition even more interesting, as no station was really favored by good conditions. And especially on 13cm we were going strong, most skeds worked fine. 23cm also went well.
So we could complete with 9A2SB again thanks to a nice A380 that almost worked for 13cm, too.
9A2SB during 1296 MHz QSO:
Especially the new 23cm PA was working flawlessly - our first contest without tube amplifier on 23cm. HA6W with a little more power (20 W) on their side is a lot easier to work than last year and is again our ODX at 895km, but G4CBW is also remarkable: booming loud signal over 892km. Unfortunately we did not work SM7ECM on 23cm.
HA6W during 1296 MHz QSO:
G4CBW during 1296 MHz QSO:
70cm was a bit problematic - but five antenna systems want to be handled properly. We started late, but at the beginning the score was ok. Unfortunately it went down during Saturday evening compared to 2014 due to various small problems and we had not been able to compensate for this loss in the following hours. Nevertheless we were happy to work E70A on Saturday morning - loud and clear in SSB despite the distance of 920km.
E70A during 432 MHz QSO:
On 13cm we could complete many skeds, the result was an outstanding 440km/QSO. We had been very active on the ON4KST chat and the use of Airscout for airplane scatter paid off in the end. Drawback was the rather low number of DL stations - we are not yet known to the microwavers and too far in the south for random contacts. Otherwise it is hard to understand why we miss more than half of the squares in DL. But it is really nice to know that SM7ECM can be worked on 13cm, too, despite the distance of 843km.
SM7ECM during 2320 MHz QSO:
Jens DF5HC and Jan DL2ZXA started to like 3cm, but pile-up of course is something else. Like 13cm we made many rather far contacts, but missed most of DL. We tried M1CRO/p, but airplane scatter was not enough - we could identify them, but signals were too weak. Thanks to the patience of Claudio I4XCC, however, we could complete our ODX (621km), but signal was again very weak. At the end of the contest we got some rain scatter - but the only signal we copied was DL0GTH. After all, October is not July - so back to "normal" conditions as expected.
As many people were available for dismounting after the contest, this part went without the chaos we had on the day before. The only problem: even with many helping hands, things take their time and sun sets rather early in October. So the 8x23 ele. Yagi had to be disassembled in almost complete darkness. Clearly something to improve next time...
This event marked the end of the 2015 contest season for DR9A. We sincerly hope to be more lucky in 2016 and be qrv more often than just in October.